Dear John: I have two watches, one from each of my great-great-grandfathers. I would like to sell them, but I am having trouble finding a place to sell them. Do you know of a watch site or company I can call to discuss selling my watches?
Watch 1: The big watch comes with a key and each side opens. Inside the lid of the decorative side has this stamped in: AM Watch Co Waltham Mass. LL69, warranted coin silver. The watch face has this on it: Rockford Watch Co Illinois. Inside the back lid is stamped LL69. My mother thinks the watch is from 1861 to 1865 based on a discussion she had with a jeweler in 1990. It does not currently tick. I did not want to use the key in case I broke something inside.
Watch 2 is a small Hamilton open-face gold filled pocket watch. It was cleaned by a jeweler in 1990. The back is engraved with the name of my great, great grandfather given to him as a retirement gift for his service in 1941. It does not currently tick. I did not want to turn the knob in case something inside broke. Thank you for any advice you can provide. — J.S., Gainesville
Dear J.S.: You have two American pocket watches that were manufactured by two highly recognized makers by collectors. Pocket watch number 1 was made by the Rockford Watch Company. Rockford was located in Rockford, Illinois from 1873 to 1915. The first Rockford pocket watch was placed on the market May 1, 1876. So yours could not have been made in the 1860s. There is a second cover where the key wind hole is; this cover has a little slot just to the right of the stem used to open the cover. Use your fingernail or a pocketknife blade to open the cover. This will reveal the movement, where you will find a serial number. This will allow me to date the watch.
The case having two lids — one for the dial and a back one to open for key winding — is called a hunter case. As marked, the hunter case was made by the American Watch Case Company in Waltham, Massachusetts and is made of coin silver, 900/1000 parts silver. The movement is wound with the key and the time is set on the dial at the center arbor that holds the hands as well with the key.
Rockford watches are a specific category of collector interest. Key wind key set coin silver watches are low on the totem pole of collector interest. Potential dollar value is in the $100 range, perhaps more on a lucky day.
Watch number two, the Hamilton, is also of specific interest. The Hamilton Watch Company was located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1892 to 1969. This watch is a family heirloom with the story engraved on the back of the watch case. That makes it wonderful for you, but not for collectors. Unless the movement has 21 jewels or more, which will be stamped on the movement, dollar value would be less than $50. Open the back of the watch and see what is marked on the movement. The slot to open is just to the right of the winding stem on the back. Let me know what you discover.
John Sikorski has been a professional in the antiques business for 30 years. Send questions to Sikorski’s Attic, P.O. Box 2513, Ocala, FL 34478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.